by Oliver Evans
You may have read my article last week that shed light on some of the worst pieces of advice I’ve received over the years. If not, go read it.
After posting the article, someone commented asking, “who even listens to this garbage?” That’s a great question. Some of the things I’ve been told are so absurd that no one in their right mind would listen to them – not even me! But others, which may still seem obviously ridiculous to you, weren’t so obvious at the time of hearing them. Or, they were, but they were repeated so many times that I began to believe them or was forced to, in order to appease.
We must also consider the audience. I’m 19 and I’ve been hearing this kind of stuff for years. Young, aspiring cyclists will often see no reason not to listen to their mentors’ advice. I mean, why shouldn’t we trust them? Our health is in their best interest, right? As far as I know, it isn’t only young athletes who hear this garbage, but young athletes are the most impressionable, sometimes under the most pressure and often are the most desperate to impress. They’re learning. So if their coach or director is, for argument’s, sake their teacher, young cyclists can be taught wrong.
One of the most brutally overstated ideas in cycling is that athletes need to eat less. Some directors and coaches, teammates or even overbearing parents, will hound athletes when it comes to food. If you’re consistently told to make a change, you might have to. Your spot on a team may be dependent on not butting heads with certain people. You can’t argue. Eventually, if you see your teammates trying to fast or weighing their food, skipping meals, vomiting or sleeping instead of eating, you might begin to believe you need to do that as well. If your performance is lacking, perhaps you’ll start to associate your poor results with not eating right.
If someone you’re close to body shames you, that could be a catalyst in you starting to believe that you shouldn’t eat.
To be honest, out of all the bad advice, it was the food one that I eventually fell for. The other ones I never really bought, but, they were often direct implications that I had no freedom to be an individual or that my mental health was not a priority to my mentors.
I’m past that bad advice now. But whether or not I ‘listened to that garbage’, that garbage was spewed all over me day in and day out. And garbage is exactly what it is. It doesn’t belong. It’s disrespectful, ignorant, and harmful. In case you were worried though, I never listened to them when they told me to cut my hair!
Oliver Evans is a 19-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, who is currently based in Victoria. He races on the road with H&R Block Pro Cycling.